JOPLIN, Mo. —
Jared Lightle never anticipated that when he renewed his marriage vows Saturday, he would have to chase some guy from the wedding hall, yelling: “Stop! Thief! Stop!”
Yet, that’s what Lightle did — in tuxedo and patent leather shoes, no less — when an uninvited guest swiped his and his bride Stephanie’s wedding gifts from a table in the lobby of the Scottish Rite Temple in downtown Joplin.
The 28-year-old groom received plenty of assistance apprehending the culprit — from his brother and father, who helped give chase, to onlookers at a traffic accident nearby, who pointed out which way the thief fled.
A police officer eventually caught the suspect a few blocks away, still in alleged possession of gift cards and cash taken from the wedding. Rosario Caruso, 31, of Lamar, was charged with trespassing, larceny and resisting arrest.
Caruso reportedly was spotted removing cards from a gift table in the lobby as the wedding reception was winding down about 8:15 p.m. in a downstairs room of the temple at 505 S. Byers Ave.
Lightle happened to be outside in the parking lot, placing his brother’s gift in the wedding couple’s car, when his mother emerged and called out to him that someone had made off with some of the other gifts. She pointed to a man across the street who was walking away with what Lightle could see were wedding cards in his hands.
“Hey, hold on a minute!” Lightle at first called to him.
The suspect looked back, but he kept walking and then broke into a run when the groom called out a second time. Finally, Lightle, hoping to enlist the help of anyone who might hear him, began yelling: “Stop! Thief! Stop!”
It so happened that police were wrapping up their handling of a traffic accident at Fourth Street and Sergeant Avenue as the suspect ran north down an alley and onlookers at the accident scene pointed out his flight path. Then an officer spotted the suspect crossing Fourth Street near Sergeant Avenue and gave chase, eventually catching up as the suspect fell while scrambling over a fence near Third Street and Connor Avenue.
“If we hadn’t caught the guy, it would have ended an otherwise perfect celebration on a very bitter note,” the groom said.
As it is, the couple are left with the awkward hassle of trying to match recovered gift cards and cash with the guests who brought them.
“But, since police caught him and it appears justice will be served,” Lightle said, “I guess we’re going to have a very unique wedding story to tell the rest of our lives.”
THEIR WEDDING SATURDAY was a renewal of vows for Jared and Stephanie Lightle, of Galena, Kan., who were married one year ago to the day at a courthouse near Fort Hood, Texas, just before Jared, a combat engineer with the 1st Cavalry Division, was deployed to Afghanistan. Their Joplin ceremony, with 175 guests, represented the traditional wedding that the couple wanted to have once he returned.